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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof waives right to jury trial

Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof
Dylann Roof, the suspect charged with fatally shooting nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., last June, is seeking to waive his right to a jury trial, according to court papers.

Lawyers for Roof, 22, of Columbia, S.C., indicated the suspect's intent in a notice they filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The move would leave Roof's future up to a judge.

"Pursuant to this order, the defendant hereby states that he is willing to waive jury, and to be tried and sentenced by the court," read the notice filed by Roof lawyers David Bruck, based in Lexington, Va., and Michael O'Connell, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

The notice also indicated, though, that a lawyer for the federal government has informed Roof's lawyers that that "the government will not consent to waive jury at either stage of this case."

Roof's trial is set to begin Nov. 7. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

On June 17, 2015, Roof staged a massacre at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study session. Among those who died were Pastor Clementa Pinckney. It is the oldest AME church in the South and was cofounded by slave revolt organizer Denmark Vesey.

Officials have said Roof targeted his alleged victims because they were black.

Source: USA Today, June 9, 2016


Dylann Roof Seeks Trial By Judge

Roof seeks to waive his Constitutional right, but federal prosecutors are objecting.

Accused Charleston massacre suspect Dylann Roof wants to waive his Constitutional right to a trial by a jury of his peers, instead asking that his fate be determined by a federal judge.

The accused is a white supremacist who is alleged to have killed nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. last June. President Obama eulogized the victims, and the Justice Department is pursuing the death penalty in the case. In addition to first-degree murder counts, Roof also faces hate crime charges. His federal trial is scheduled to begin in November, while his state trial is expected to begin in 2017.

In court documents filed Thursday, Roof and his attorneys asked to waive his right to a jury trail. Those same documents indicate prosecutors are objecting to his request. If forced to face a jury, Roof's attorney David Bruck said he may ask the judge to have jurors selected from the Charleston area and not statewide

Roof is alledged to have entered the Emanual AME Church in downtown Charleston on June 17, 2016, took part in Bible study for an hour, and then opened fire on those there. When all was said and done, nine people -- including a state senator -- were dead, and three others were injured.

The incident has touched a nerve nationwide in the year since the shooting. South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of its state capitol. Other states have debated removing the confederate flag from their state flag, it has been removed from U.S. Capitol grounds, and the National Park Service has stopped selling Confederate items at National Parks, notably Civil War battlefields. Most recently, Washington National Cathedral removed stained glass windows with the flag.

Source: US News, Curt Mills, June 10, 2016

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